After Kevin McCarthy failed to win enough votes to become House speaker on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump held a call with Mr. McCarthy and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, one of the key Republican members of Congress blocking Mr. McCarthy’s bid.
Mr. Trump’s goal was to break the logjam. But if Mr. Trump had wanted Mr. Perry to quickly flip, it wasn’t to be: The next day, Mr. Perry voted against Mr. McCarthy three more times.
At 1:15 a.m. Thursday on his social media platform, Truth Social, Mr. Trump said the turmoil was good for the process and predicted a “big Republican victory.” But by about 6 p.m., Mr. McCarthy had lost 10 consecutive votes in three days, with no end to the stalemate in sight.
Mr. McCarthy’s inability to corral enough votes this week has underscored the limits of Mr. Trump’s political potency inside a party that has not controlled the Senate since 2018, lost the White House in 2020 and failed, so far, to identify the next leader of their narrow majority in the House.
Even if Mr. McCarthy is eventually successful, Mr. Trump has, once again, struggled in his role as his party’s kingmaker. His handpicked candidates failed to usher in the red wave Republicans had hoped for in the midterm elections in November. His attempt to install a new Republican leader in the Senate was crushed. His third consecutive presidential campaign, launched six weeks ago, has underwhelmed.
Now, Mr. Trump’s sway over many of his own loyalists in the House has fizzled in the most public of ways and on the most public of stages — a reminder that the insurgency in Congress isn’t so much a creature of his creation but a force that predated him and helped fuel his political rise. [Continue reading…]